Day 0: Arrival — Day 1: Virtual Reality
There is something exhilarating about walking into a room and seeing Barry Diller wearing a virtual reality headset, gesturing wildly and emitting sounds like a child at Disneyland.
Actually there is nothing exhilarating about it. The word I meant to use was “wrong” – “creepy” would also work.
Supposedly, the 15-year-old founder of Oculus Rift set Mr. Diller up with a interactive western experience per his request.
I walked up to Barry as he made wild gestures in the air:
“What you watchin, Bar?”
“It’s an interactive movie – a western. Piss off.”
“Can I see?”
“No, fuck off.”
I was able to get a screenshot of his VR experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Virtual Reality and realize it’s going to be a huge business for a very small percentage of the world (0.01% at the high end).
During a VR panel featuring Oculus Rift founder Skippy Youngone (or something) we learned that Oculus was planning some disturbing new uses for the VR headset including the ability to feel real pain when shot or stabbed during a video game (it only will cost an additional $600 for that feature) – though actual bleeding is still “years away,” Skippy said somewhat sadly.
The most astonishing new business was a super clandestine project developed in the basement of the Oculus lab (the Sub-Zero 4T lab) focusing on real life end-of-life-solutions in which terminally ill people can choose the way they will die, i.e., getting eaten by piranhas, jumping into a volcano, ninja battle, dying in your sleep [my personal favorite].
Just put on the Oculus headset (for extra cost you can add the pain feeling armband and touch finger sensors) and when you’re ready to die someone will assist you with your pre-selected choice and you will die virtually… and actually.
Those of us in the room closer to the end of life than the beginning were thoroughly enchanted / horrified by this idea and wanted to learn more.
But then, Actual Reality took over the room as we started to see that the world outside of Sun Valley is falling apart.
China (which we all rely on to save our businesses from stagnant growth because of an inability to grow domestically) has returned to being a third-world country after the past month’s epic stock market collapse which has left villagers (who invested so many chickens and goats into the booming market ) longing for the old days of famine and misery.
Herb Allen attempted to keep the conference on track by going forward with a few lame panels (some bullshit about solar, something stupid about colonizing Mars and Defense Secretary Ashton Kushner assuring everyone that everything is awesome except ISIS) but you could tell the mood of the conference has shifted.
All around The Great Hall of the Moguls (The Limelight Ballroom), Captains of Industry were just staring at their phones not knowing what the F was happening (though they all claim to know).
It was decided by a core group of us that the plan for the rest of the conference is to get drunk, eat steak and worry for a couple more days in Sun Valley and then get back on our planes – whether it be to the Hamptons, Hawaii or Europe – and then continue to worry the rest of the summer.
Jeff Katzenberg – ever the failed optimist – is heading to Comic-Con as though that means anything anymore.
Not that the sky is falling… but, yes, the sky is falling.
And Manka Bros. just finished our five-year-plan in which 80% of our profits from 2020 are projected to come from China.
I think we’ll just change “China” to “Bulgaria” in the plan because that has a better chance of working out.
As Simpson’s Comic Book Guy would say: “Worst Herb Allen Sun Valley Conference ever!”